Towards Responsible Research and Innovation in Science and Technology: SMART-maps


As you know, it can be difficult to keep track of the fast developments and many local and national activities in the field of science education, a challenge that the Scientix project aims to tackle. Not only in science education, but also in the world of professionally and commercially applied science and technology, a lack of exchange and coherent action across Europe can hamper development. That is why the European Commission, under the Horizon 2020 Programme, funded the coordination and support action SMART-map (“RoadMAPs to Societal Mobilisation for the Advancement of Responsible Industrial Technologies”). It is the goal of this project to define and implement concrete roadmaps for the responsible development of technologies and services in three key fields: precision medicine, synthetic biology and 3D printing in biomedicine. The project started in May 2016 and finished in October 2018, which is when I attended the final conference in Brussels in order to gain an insight into the most important findings and project results.

The SMART-Map project took place within the larger context of the European Commission’s ‘Science with and for Society’ objective, as a step towards Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). This means that research and innovation processes, including commercial ones, should be conducted in cooperation with and to the benefit of society. Specifically, SMART-map organized collaborative industrial dialogues for the three above-mentioned sectors, which are rapidly growing and have been changing the way science and citizens interact. Through the industrial dialogues, which included industrial partners, civil society, researchers, and partially also doctors and patients, recommendations were formulated and toolboxes for inclusive and responsible research and innovation developed. Industry partners then piloted a number of these tools to test and show the benefits of RRI for companies. In the long term, the aim is to mainstream RRI into research and innovation processes so that it will translate into societal mobilization, making research and innovation more participatory and socially relevant.

Watch this video if you would like to know more.

In conclusion, the project found that while the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation is not widely or explicitly used yet, many companies are implementing “de facto RRI” at least partially. However, it is a cross-disciplinary effort involving many stakeholders, and more effort is needed from the side of policy makers in order to create incentives for the further implementation of research and innovation for the societal good that involves citizens directly. In addition, the issue of science education is on the agenda when it comes to discussing RRI, and will certainly offer interesting opportunities and challenges in the future.

If you are interested in the further developments in RRI and the detailed procedures and findings of SMART-map, you can find more information on the project website. Some impressions from the final conference are available on the project’s YouTube channel. Finally, at the end of October, an eBook summarizing the project results will be published, so stay tuned for the release date.


Authors: Mona Sefen and Viola Pinzi, European Schoolnet

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